Ideas on Europe

Informed analysis, comment and debate

Category Archives: Democracy & Citizenship

The rise and fall of the Berlin Wall

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It was 58 years ago today – on 17 August 1961 – that the Communist East German government completed the construction of the Berlin Wall. The wall split the city of Berlin in half, brutally dividing families and friends, until 28 years later, on 9 November 1989. On that eventful day, the people of Berlin […]

Which version of Brexit did Britain vote for?

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Before the referendum campaign, the Tory government flagged up three different versions of Brexit. If you’re a Leave voter, which one did you vote for? The fact is that Leave voters didn’t opt for any specific version of Brexit. Each option wasn’t even properly discussed during the campaign, let alone put on the ballot paper. […]

Yes, Britain can stop Brexit

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Late last year the European Court of Justice turned upside down claims by Tory ministers that it was too late to stop Brexit. The Court’s judgement was that the UK can unilaterally revoke its Article 50 notice and remain in the EU on exactly the same membership terms as now. The ruling means that the UK can do a […]

Parliament cannot bind a future Parliament

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Brexiters often say that the referendum result is a done deal and cannot be changed. But that’s not how our democracy works. Yes, the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 became law in June last year. The then International Trade Minister, Liam Fox, said at the time: “Lest anyone is in any doubt, the chances of […]

We get the best trade deals in the EU

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As an EU member, the UK currently participates in around 40 excellent free trade agreements with over 70 countries, with more on the way, on advantageous terms that Britain is unlikely ever to replicate after Brexit. Because the EU is the world’s richest, biggest single trading bloc, and the world’s biggest exporter and importer of […]

Boris Johnson: The dictator

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We thought that Prime Minister, Theresa May, was dictatorial. But her replacement, Boris Johnson, has taken the word to new depths. Mrs May tried her best – but failed – to pass Brexit by bypassing Parliament. But Mr Johnson is determined to ride roughshod over Parliament, if he must, to ensure Brexit happens on 31 […]

Can Remain now win, 100 days before Brexit?

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A sobering article in today’s Financial Times by Camilla Cavendish, who assertively claims that, ‘Remainers have lost and must now accept defeat’. Her article opens: ‘Britain’s downhill slope towards leaving the EU is getting steeper; the slide into liberation-oblivion is coming closer.’ She claims, ‘A second referendum is vanishingly unlikely. Moderates who don’t want the UK […]

Deeds, not words: getting ready for the next stage of Brexit

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The torpor of summer is crawling across Europe: the siren call of that holiday you’ve promised yourself all year grows ever louder, even as your workplace empties. So what better time of year to be kicking off what prove to be a decisive stage in the Brexit process? Next Tuesday, we’ll find out who has […]

Finding Consensus in Fragmentation: The Scramble for the EU’s Top Jobs

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A Game of Musical Chairs Yesterday’s European Council Summit was derailed even before it started with leaders of the European People’s Party (EPP) rejecting the “Osaka Deal” that would have had Frans Timmermans installed as President of the European Commission, while EPP would have been left with the Parliament and, possibly, the High Representative for […]

Critics Claim That Europe’s Courts Are Unaccountable. Recent Cases Suggest Otherwise.

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Brexit supporters have claimed that European courts are out of touch and impose their will on an unwilling British public. Michael F. Harsch, Vladislav Maksimov, and Chris Wheeler argue that European courts are more accountable than these critics contend: when these courts defy the wishes of governments, judgements tend to align with public opinion.  One […]

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